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Opinion Boy Scouts bankruptcy a warning to others who have ignored sexual abuse

23:00  18 february  2020
23:00  18 february  2020 Source:   usatoday.com

Boy Scouts bankruptcy filing expected within hours, victims' lawyers say

  Boy Scouts bankruptcy filing expected within hours, victims' lawyers say The Boy Scouts of America, after decades of being crippled by child sex abuse claims, plans to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy by early Tuesday, the New York Daily News has learned. Two lawyers who individually have represented hundreds of victims confirmed to the Daily News that the 110-year-old organization could be filing papers in Delaware federal bankruptcy court as early as midnight. As the embattled Boy Scouts begin the long process of restructuring debt, any pending sex abuse claim against the organization will be put on hold, lawyers said.

The Boy Scouts of America have filed for bankruptcy protection in a move that the group says will allow it to build a compensation fund for sex abuse victims. The move follows a number of lawsuits filed against the organisation over claims of sexual abuse , alleging it failed to prevent hundreds of cases.

The Boy Scouts of America has filed for bankruptcy , according to a court document filed in Delaware bankruptcy court early Tuesday. The bankruptcy filing comes at a time when the organization faces hundreds of sexual abuse lawsuits, thousands of alleged abuse victims and dwindling membership

Editor’s note: The opinions in this article are the author’s, as published by our content partner, and do not necessarily represent the views of MSN or Microsoft.

a person wearing a hat: In this Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 file photo, Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance to begin a Veterans Day ceremony in Wrightwood, Calif. Facing a possible bankruptcy due to sex-abuse litigation, the Boy Scouts of America issued a new apology Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, to survivors of abuse and announced plans for expanded services to support them.© James Quigg, AP In this Sunday, Nov. 11, 2018 file photo, Boy Scouts lead the Pledge of Allegiance to begin a Veterans Day ceremony in Wrightwood, Calif. Facing a possible bankruptcy due to sex-abuse litigation, the Boy Scouts of America issued a new apology Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2020, to survivors of abuse and announced plans for expanded services to support them.

I have represented victims of sexual abuse for over 35 years. When I started out, the issue barely registered on the cultural Richter scale — newspapers rarely reported it and politicians paid it little mind. Now, the Boy Scouts of America, the most iconic youth organization in the nation, has 110 years almost to the day after its founding in the United States, declared bankruptcy under the weight of its awful sexual abuse. Never in all my years of practice did I ever believe there was a realistic chance of this happening. So why now?

Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits

  Boy Scouts file for bankruptcy due to sex-abuse lawsuits Barraged by hundreds of sex-abuse lawsuits, the Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy protection Tuesday in hopes of working out a potentially mammoth victim compensation plan that will allow the hallowed, 110-year-old organization to carry on. © AP Photo/LM Otero Shown is the Boys Scouts of America headquarters in Irving, Texas, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2020. (AP Photo/LM Otero) The Chapter 11 filing in federal bankruptcy court in Wilmington, Delaware, sets in motion what could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen.

"A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we’ve ever seen," said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose firm is representing scores of men nationwide alleging they were abused as Boy Scouts . Illustrating the depth of its problems, the organization in

The Boy Scouts of America (BSA) has filed for bankruptcy amid thousands of new sexual abuse claims The World Health Organization has warned all governments to be on alert and screening has been In filing for bankruptcy , the Scouts can now place all lawsuits on hold as it looks to sell off its

The answer squarely lies in the 2010 Portland, Oregon trial of Lewis v. Boy Scouts of America where a jury returned a 19.9 million dollar verdict on behalf of a 38 year-old man who was sexually abused by his scoutmaster. While the jury’s verdict — the largest in the nation’s history against the Boy Scouts — in part reflected the damage experienced by Mr. Lewis, the crux of the verdict was the 18.5 million dollar punitive award which reflected the jury’s intent to punish the Boy Scouts for concealing its decades’ long problem of sexual abuse by its adult leaders. The history of the abuse and the facts of this cover-up were documented in stark, meticulous and disturbing detail in the Boy Scout’s infamous "Perversion Files" released as a result of the case. This mountain of files, along with the callous and indifferent testimony of BSA executives, conclusively proved the organization’s knowledge of the its problem and its concerted effort to conceal it from scouts, their parents and the public.

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"A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we've ever seen," said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose firm is representing scores of men nationwide alleging they were abused as Boy Scouts . Illustrating the depth of its problems, the organization in

“A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we’ve ever seen,” said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose firm is The insurers said their obligation was void because the Scouts refused to take effective preventive measures such as warning parents that

In one file from the early 1980’s, a local scout executive wrote the Boy Scout official in charge of the Perversion Files that he wanted an adult leader removed because he showed cub scouts pornography. The  reply reflected the Boy Scout’s tone-deaf thinking on the subject of sexual abuse: “I will need more information, if you wish me to place him on our Confidential Files so that he cannot register in the future. I agree that sleeping in the nude and showing boys pornographic books indicated very poor judgment with dealing with Cub Scouts. I do not know, however, that this is a serious enough offense to refuse registration anywhere he might try to register unless there are more instances.”

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Scouts' reckless disregard

Despite the files’ voluminous details of sexual abuse, the trial testimony of the Boy Scout executives demonstrated a reckless disregard for the safety of scouts. Not only did the jury hear top Boy Scouts of America officials admit that the organization had never informed scouts or their parents of the problem of sexual abuse by adult leaders, but  remarkably, the assistant chief scout executive, the number two in command, professed ignorance as to their contents:

What happened to the Boy Scouts?

  What happened to the Boy Scouts? The Boy Scouts of America is filing for bankruptcy in “what could be one of the biggest, most complex bankruptcies ever seen,” according to the Associated Press. What happened? The 110-year-old nonprofit organization has struggled with membership over the past few years due to two controversies: an apparent proliferation of sexual abuse cases and its recent acceptance of openly gay leaders, as well as transgender or female members. When the organization decided to accept girls and transgender boys among its members, it appeared the Boy Scouts couldn’t even tell you what a boy was.

“A Boy Scout bankruptcy would be bigger in scale than any other child abuse bankruptcy we’ve ever seen,” said Seattle-based attorney Mike Pfau, whose firm is representing scores of men nationwide alleging they were abused as Boy Scouts . Illustrating the depth of its problems, the organization in

former Scout and sexual abuse victim Kerry Lewis in 2010, said Monday that instead of potentially having their day in court, alleged victims who had That won't happen with a bankruptcy ," Pfau said. Mones said in the aftermath of the Lewis case, his law office received hundreds of phone calls from

Q: Are you aware of any sexual abuse at all that's represented by the perversion files, sir?

A: No, sir.

And as if these responses would not be enough to convince the jury of leadership’s cold indifference to the agony of thousands of loyal boys, the Scout official tasked with running the Perversion Files testified in response to my question about his awareness of the “…problem of scouts being molested by adult leaders," by asserting that he was, “Not quite sure it’s a problem…”

After the verdict was rendered, the Boy Scouts of America had a clear choice. It could have changed course by reaching out to the thousands of adult victims and offered them compensation and counseling for their injuries. Instead it dug in its heels by going to court to prevent the public release of the Perversion Files. The Oregon Supreme Court denied that request, and in 2012 the it ordered the files released to the general public.

The release of the Perversion Files was the beginning of the end for the Boy Scouts. Within the next year we were contacted by hundreds of men throughout the nation who were sexually assaulted by their scout masters; remarkably, the vast majority of the leaders were not even in the Perversion Files which proved that the files only contained a minority of scout sexual abuse cases. These men, doctors, truck drivers, military veterans — all of whom took the solemn Boy Scout oath to do their duty to God and country and to “help people at all times,” were consumed by anger, hurt and disappointment. Within a short while, the Boy Scouts of America was inundated with lawsuits from all over the nation.

For Boy Scout Abuse Victims, 'It's Not About the Money'

  For Boy Scout Abuse Victims, 'It's Not About the Money' Ex-Scouts who say they were abused tell TIME the Boy Scout bankruptcy will help expose the full extent of the pedophilia problemNow, he and thousands of other men who say they suffered similar abuse as Boy Scouts may get some sort of restitution, though not necessarily in the form of a large payout. With the Scouts’ bankruptcy filing Tuesday, they will watch as the once-hallowed organization finally collapses under the weight of accusers’ claims.

Scouts not alone

Over the next 8 years, it was not just the financial strain caused by an ever increasing number of claims that would eventually bring the Boy Scouts to insolvency, but as well, it was a fundamental ground-shift in public attitudes about sexual abuse in institutions — a change the organization could neither predict nor control. During this time, our nation’s consciousness shifted from a focus on the evil perpetrator to one in which the institution was targeted for its abject failure to protect the children it was meant to serve. Between 2012 and 2019 prestigious cultural icons — Penn State, elite private schools like Horace Mann, the St. Paul's School, Choate Rosemary Hall and Olympic sports programs like USA Swimming and USA Gymnastics to name just a few, all were exposed as protecting their predator employees and volunteers at the expense of trusting, innocent children. The outrage at that these exalted institutions which willingly sacrificed the most vulnerable to protect their reputations was palpable. Fueling the public fury, was the scathing 2018 report by Pennsylvania Attorney General which renewed the focus on the unforgivable cruelties perpetrated by the Catholic Church.

As a consequence of this new sexual abuse consciousness, a groundswell of support grew in legislatures around the nation demanding that obsolete, draconian statute of limitation laws, the main bulwark protecting institutions like the Boy Scouts and the Catholic Church, be reformed to allow victims, previously prevented from suing, to get through the courthouse door. Look-back windows — statutes meant to give older victims of sexual abuse a defined period of time in which to sue their abusers — began to gain momentum in 2012 when Hawaii enacted a statute giving victims of sexual abuse two years to sue. By 2019 when New York, New Jersey, California, Arizona, Washington D.C. and North Carolina enacted look-back windows, the BSA’s bankruptcy was all but guaranteed because of the flood of litigation these new laws generated.

Pennsylvania Roman Catholic diocese files for bankruptcy after $12M in sex-abuse settlements

  Pennsylvania Roman Catholic diocese files for bankruptcy after $12M in sex-abuse settlements The Roman Catholic Diocese of Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, filed for bankruptcy Wednesday, months after admitting it paid more than $12 million to victims sexually abused by their clerics as children. © FoxNews.com New laws on reporting sex abuse could leave the Catholic Church on the hook for billions more in payouts; insight from Bernard Condon, breaking news investigations reporter at the Associated Press. The filing said the diocese “faces potentially significant exposure from remaining claimants,” which is estimated to be at least 200 more than the 111 cases it has already settled.

We are at critical tipping point in our history where hallowed cultural institutions are finally being brought to justice after years of enabling unspeakable crimes against the most powerless of our society. The Boy Scouts of America is now shattered, and it has only itself to blame. And its bankruptcy should serve as a blunt warning that if this new insurgency for sexual abuse victims can take down this sacred institution, it is only a matter of time when the Sword of Damocles will come down on churches, schools and youth organizations throughout the nation. Whether they heed this warning, will determine their future.

Paul Mones is an attorney who resides in Los Angeles and specializes in representing victims of sexual abuse throughout the nation. He has represented abuse victims suing the Boy Scouts of America. Follow him on Twitter @MonesPaul

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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Boy Scouts bankruptcy a warning to others who have ignored sexual abuse

Retracing the Boy Scouts' Path to Bankruptcy .
The Boy Scouts of America were dogged by sex-abuse claims for more than 50 years before it implemented key child-safety policies in the late 1980s. Now hundreds of men are coming forward to allege abuse decades ago.Now, after more than a dozen states changed their statute-of-limitations laws in 2019 to allow lawsuits based on decades-old allegations, hundreds of men are coming forward to say they were abused decades ago.

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